Seminario Teológico de Puerto Rico Hit by 2017 Hurricanes
Dr. Ron Walborn, dean of Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS), visited Seminario Teológico de Puerto Rico (STPR), the Seminary’s hurricane-battered extension site in San Juan.
After being struck by Hurricane Irma on September 10, the Puerto Rico campus was closed until September 17. Though it reopened on September 18, it was forced to close again on September 19 as Hurricane Maria approached the island. The second storm hit landfall with sustained winds of 165 miles per hour and as high as 190 miles per hour for more than eight hours. Fortunately, there was no loss of life in the campus community. However, three months later, more than 80% of the island’s power grid is still down. The Seminary was able to resume classes on October 4 using solar lamps.
Dr. Julio Aponte, executive director of STPR, commented that “Dr. Ronald Walborn’s visit is a manifestation of the solidarity and unity that exists between the main Nyack campus in Rockland and the campus in Puerto Rico. These days were useful so that Dr. Walborn could interact with our students and see the high percentage of retention in enrollment even after Hurricane Maria. He also saw the devastation that occurred on the Island, as we toured some of the mountain towns, even three months after the storm. In addition, the donations received from Nyack faculty members and students have helped to keep the Seminary operating. We pray that the enrollment for the spring 2018 semester will continue to be proof of God's fidelity to Seminario Teológico de Puerto Rico.”
Enrollment for fall 2017 was 212 students, 57 in undergraduate studies and 155 in master’s level programs. Despite the destruction to the Island, 175 students are still attending class.
Dean Walborn visited with five classes of students and also met with staff. At a weekend Christmas celebration, he was asked to speak to the C&MA district there. He concluded his stay by preaching at one of the larger Alliance churches with Board of Directors member Steve Lausell serving as a translator.
“I am amazed at the resiliency of the faculty, staff and students to persevere and return to the Seminary in a season of great devastation. I firmly believe our Seminary and our students will come through this better and stronger,” Dr. Walborn remarked. “The courageous leadership of Dr. Julio Aponte was heroic in this season. The school is up and functioning today because of the hard work and dedication of Dr. Aponte and his team.”